Maharishi University of Management uses the system of Consciousness-Based Education in the classroom. A primary part of Consciousness-Based Education is that the students and teachers practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day. Maharishi University of Management is not the only school to recognize the benefits in the classroom from practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM ). Maharishi School, a K-12 private school, adjunct to the Maharishi University of Management campus uses Consciousness Based Education (CBE); and schools around the country, and the world, are incorporating TM into the school day schedule by enrolling in the David Lynch Foundation’s Quiet Time Program.
The following is an excerpt about the Quiet Time program from the March 2012 edition of Tall Poppies, a magazine for the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children. The article is under the Stress-free learning section and titled “Teaching Children to Meditate.” You can read the full article, with photos, by downloading Tall Poppies: Stress Free Learning.
Teaching children to meditate
Any teacher surveying the young faces of his or her class must often wonder why is it that certain students seem to understand the lessons more quickly and easily than the rest. All the children have two eyes, two ears and one brain – yet some young brains seem to work better than others.
Up until now, we have more or less accepted that the comprehension levels of a student are fixed. The accent in education has been on developing the quality of the information fed into those young brains, rather than developing the quality of the intelligence that is receiving that information.
Fair enough, because up until now there has been no reliable standard technology in the world of education for ‘upgrading the hardware’ within the cranium of each and every student. However, there is now a quiet revolution going on in a number of schools around the world that is challenging the notion of fixed intelligence and the inevitability of under-achievement.
This quiet revolution is being driven by the introduction of a simple, natural, mental technique utilised by all students and staff for a short period at the beginning and end of each school day, called Transcendental Meditation (TM ). TM comes into the daily routine of a school in the first and last 15 minutes of the day during a period called Quiet Time, when students sit in their classrooms and practise the technique along with their teacher. Taught by qualified instructors, the programme is non-sectarian and is easily integrated into any public or private school curriculum.
During meditation EEG studies show that whole-brain functioning is enlivened during TM practice and that different parts of the brain begin to work in a more synchronous and orderly fashion. Higher levels of brain integration are associated with greater moral reasoning, emotional stability and decreased anxiety.
One staff member of a school with a Quiet Time Programme in Auckland commented: ‘My students are focused and there is calmness about them. There has been a shift in their learning.’ In contemplating the beaming faces in front of her soon after the programme started, another teacher quipped: ‘Who are these kids . . . where has my class gone!’
Do the claims stack up?
Skeptics query whether TM really works and say its effects are not scientifically proven. However, the New York Times recently reported the results of a study focusing on transcendental meditation, concentrated on a young healthy population.
The study, published in The American Journal of Hypertension, found that stressed-out college students improved their mood through TM, and those at risk for hypertension were able to reduce their blood pressure. It was carried out at American University in Washington, DC and included 298 students randomly assigned to either a meditation group or a waiting list.
Students who were at risk of hypertension and practiced meditation, reduced systolic blood pressure by 6.3mm of mercury and their diastolic pressure by 4mm of mercury on average, reported the Times.
It’s worked for us
Kataraina Nock, principal of Edmund Hillary School in Papakura, reflects on the changes engendered by teaching TM to her pupils:
The school is now a much more peaceful place most of the time. The number of incidents involving children in conflict has significantly reduced over time and there are no longer queues waiting to see the principal.
In 2011, reading results school-wide showed some outstanding improvement. For example, in 2010, for Yr 4 Pacifika Boys, 87 per cent were below or well below the national standard, while 13 per cent were above. In 2011, for the same group, 86 per cent were reading at national standard and 14 per cent were above. As a result, by 2012 there were no children in this year group in need of additional learning support; they had moved from poor-achieving to high-achieving readers. The children themselves say they find it easier to study and they feel calmer, happier and less pressured.
Another significant difference now is the stability of staffing. Up until 2010, the recruitment and retention of quality teachers was a major issue. Now, in 2012, most of the teachers have been in the school for two years or more. All staff except for a new teacher this year have trained in TM.
Tall Poppies is a quality magazine aimed at gifted children and their families, professionals in the field of gifted education, and the general public.
You can get more information about stress-free New Zealand schools, here.
Discover more about Consciousness-based Education at Maharishi University of Management, here.
Learn more about the David Lynch Foundation’s Quiet Time program, here.
|Anna Bruen is a MUM alumna who graduated with a degree in Sustainable Living. Anna is the resident blogger here at MUM. To learn more about Anna take a look at her introduction post.|